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5 running for 2 seats on Eureka board

With no incumbents in race, newcomers guaranteed
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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Editor's note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story stated candidate Ryan Jones has children in the district. In fact, his oldest child will enter kindergarten in the district next year. For the first time in years, voters won’t be returning any incumbents to the Eureka Union School District board. Longtime trustees Russ Nash and Dan Clift aren’t seeking re-election. And a crowded field has assembled in their stead, with five candidates hoping to fill the two spots in the Nov. 4 election. Local residents Kristie Greiss, Robert Hoslett, Ryan Jones, Eric Sanchez, and Eric Teed-Bose are in the hunt for the two four-year seats on the five-member board. The election comes at a time of major changes for the district, which serves roughly 3,700 students in Granite Bay and a portion of Roseville. The existing board has already made some big decisions to reckon with a budget crisis, including slating schools for closure and transitioning to a more efficient grade configuration. But the problems are far from over, as projections show continued declining enrollment, a trend that devastates the district’s finances. Greiss, of Granite Bay, is a mother of four children in the district. Like each of the other candidates, she said the district’s budget is issue No. 1, and said she would go line by line to “look at all of the programs within our district” to find efficiencies. Greiss, 37, praised the current board’s emphasis on revamping curriculum, saying she would support efforts to bring a 21st century curriculum to the schools. But she said also said communication among the district, staff and parents needs to be improved. She would also work with school community leaders to streamline the fundraising activities of local PTCs, site councils and the district’s foundation, she said. “A lot of times with parents we feel like we’re being nickel and dimed,” she said. “So I want to be a little bit more organized with that.” Hoslett, a safety specialist for Regional Transit, also said communication is important, and has made it a centerpiece of why he’s running. “You’ve got different groups – the board, teachers, parents – and they’re all trying to be heard and that doesn’t always happen,” said Hoslett, 42, of Granite Bay. “One thing I’m good at is listening to people, making sure they’re told when things are happening and when they can come speak.” Hoslett, whose wife is a teacher in the district and who is being supported by the teacher’s union, said he would be an impartial decision-maker. He added he’d focus on increasing revenue through attracting more students and going after additional state funding. “The bottom line is what it’s all about,” said Hoslett, who has children in district schools. “You’ve got to make sure you’ve got money and not spending into the red.” Ryan Jones, of Roseville, an attorney and active-duty Air Force reservist whose oldest child will be a kindergartner in the district next year, said he’s running out of a “vested interest” in their future. He said he could provide the kind of leadership needed to steer the district through perilous times. “What concerns me is a combination of our financial situation and ability to continue to provide a quality educational product,” Jones, 31, said. “I don’t think we’re in a horrible situation. Our scores look good. I think the district is on the right track but I’m worried that future won’t be as green.” He said the district has been reaching into its reserves for several years, and advocates a fiscally conservative outlook. “My thought is get in and take another look at (the budget) line by line and see where the money is going,” he said. Sanchez, 47, unsuccessfully ran for the board in 2006 predicting a major budget crisis, but said he wasn’t taken seriously. “Everybody kind of dismissed me,” he said. Two years later, he says he’s been vindicated – but that the board has still not effectively dealt with the problems. “We’re just feeling the first effects of financial difficulties and we have three to five more years to come,” said Sanchez. A former member of the district’s long-term planning task force and a past PTC president, Sanchez said to avoid class sizes increasing further the board will need to find new ways to bring in funding. “We’re cutting programs, teachers and impacting students,” said Sanchez, a sales manager for Oracle Corp. “We’ve also got to go other side of the balance sheet to impact revenues.” Sanchez is the only other candidate to be endorsed by the teachers union, but said local conservative leaders have also offered their support, showing he can bring all sides to the table. Teed-Bose, 43, said he likes where the district is going, but added he wants to safeguard its academic offerings. The issue has a direct bearing on revenues, he said, because the number of parents pulling students out of Eureka could accelerate. “We are losing some kids to other surrounding districts where parents are perceiving their children are being better served,” said Teed-Bose, who works in real-estate development. He also said he would work to bolster communication to improve relationships among the district, board, parents and teachers. “The bottom line is we have to have a completely open book,” said Teed-Bose, who has a son in the district. “We can’t necessarily perform miracles but we can be transparent with the challenges we’re facing.” “For this ship to continue to float, there has to be shared and mutual sacrifice on all parts,” he added. “At end of day, there’s only so much money and we have a responsibility first to the kids.”